#OpenEdMOOC – Final thoughts

(Source of Image – https://youtu.be/iHmHWVHmyfQ –  0.56)

Like Rebecca Heiser, I have been reflecting on the EdX Introduction to Open Education MOOC.

The title of the MOOC led me to expect a broad discussion about Open Education and in my first post about the MOOC, I wrote:

My hope is that it will offer a fresh perspective and rekindle the enthusiasm I had for open education in the early days of the first MOOC in 2008, but which I have found increasingly difficult to sustain in the last couple of years.

It turned out that my hope was not realised. The MOOC focused on Open Education Resources, which I think is just one aspect of open education, and I have to say the aspect that is of least interest to me since I work independently of an institution and no longer teach, so although I come up against some of the issues presented in the course materials, they do not have the impact on me that they might have on others. This was the syllabus for the course.

Week 1: Why Open Matters
Week 2: Copyright, The Public Domain, and The Commons
Week 3: The 5R Activities and the Creative Commons Licenses
Week 4: Creating, Finding, and Using OER
Week 5: Research on the Impact of OER Adoption
Week 6: The Next Battles for Openness: Data, Algorithms, and Competency Mapping

Disappointingly for me there was little discussion of open pedagogy or open teaching. But I did stick with the MOOC. I found the videos of discussions between George Siemens and David Wiley interesting, as were the videos by Norman Bier and other resources provided, and I was particularly grateful for the alternative thought-provoking perspective of Stephen Downes. Did I learn a lot? I don’t think so. I think this was because OER isn’t of huge interest to me, but also because there was minimal discussion between participants. But I don’t feel negative about the MOOC, just that it didn’t rekindle my early enthusiasm for open education.

Rebecca Heiser  has thrown down the gauntlet twice during the course and been largely ignored. First, at the end of the course she tweeted:

So will we get to see Open Analytics in #OpenEdMOOC? What were we clicking? What were our activity-levels? Hashtags generated? Most importantly what were our most discussed topics, was knowledge transferred? #OpenPL Did we form our own network? Will we continue the conversation?

I saw that Stephen Downes picked this up (I think in OLDaily), but otherwise no-one responded to these good and legitimate questions.

And then Rebecca tried again with a post reflecting on her experience of this MOOC.

I can’t help but be critical of the #OpenEdMOOC, Introduction to Open Education, hosted by edX. With as much excitement that was generated by the Open Community prior to the start of the MOOC, I feel that we were let down by Week 3 of the course. Here’s a recap of my critique by week…

This time she received a response (notably not from George or David) and a few comments.

Geoff Cain commented:

This was pretty ironic for me. MOOCs are the only educational space where instructors and institutions are comfortable with the “Set It and Forget It” model of teaching. Despite everything that we have learned about what makes for a successful online class, all the rules change when it comes to MOOCs. As an instructor who has worked in developmental education and education support my whole life, that model seems like a huge step backwards.

This, and Rebecca and Lena Patterson’s comments, seems to me what we should have been discussing, i.e. some of the more difficult consequences of open education and the questions that remain unanswered.

Having participated in and completed a number of MOOCs, I was not surprised by the “Set It and Forget It” model of teaching that Geoff mentions. From the very first MOOC (CCK08) the idea has been that participants teach each other and take responsibility for doing this, because in a massive networked environment it is impossible for one person (the tutor) to interact with everything that is going on. But the complexity of this as a model for teaching and learning, and whether it is an effective model, has yet to be adequately researched.

Thank you to Rebecca for bravely raising these questions in an environment which is known to reward consensus and punish dissent!

8 thoughts on “#OpenEdMOOC – Final thoughts

  1. cpjobling November 21, 2017 / 11:01 am

    Thanks for your comments Jenny. Though I would have liked to, I couldn’t find the time or the energy to engage in #OpenEdMOOC and your weekly summaries have been my only engagement.

    One point in it’s favour is that unlike EdX courses in general, this one has an Openly accessible mirror. I can at least revisit the content without paying for the privilege.

    It’s a pity that the conversations that so benefited the early cMOOCs haven’t happened. I myself have noticed the limited activity on the hashtag. I wonder if there’s a research project in looking at the requirements for a real collaborative network of learners and teachers to form around a course. The discussion systems inside EdX, course and FutureLearn all seem quite primitive to me but moving the discussion out to the social networks can disenfranchise some learners.

  2. cain November 21, 2017 / 4:42 pm

    I am familiar with cMOOCs, having been an early participant myself. I have also taken courses with Dave Cormier (rhizomatic teaching and learning). Those courses were engaging – classes I have taken in the EdX environments have not been. I have written on the design of moocs here: http://geoffcain.com/blog/category/mooc/ and specifically here: http://geoffcain.com/blog/connectivism/why-moocs-work/ I think that there is a design to MOOCs that works – this MOOC seemed to rely a lot on pre-canned content and not enough on engagement. Yes, the instructors have to have faith in self-directed learning but the students need more facilitation in the curation. I run across this in my teaching as well. I can’t just tell my students, “Hey, go post on a blog.” They have no idea how to do that, let alone how to post and respond effectively AND build and maintain a network of learners. It takes time to do that. I am not sure if posting videos is a good model for that. I do like that the course led to a deeper discussion of pedagogy. http://geoffcain.com/blog/connectivism/moocs-group-work-and-instructional-design/

  3. cpjobling November 22, 2017 / 12:46 am

    I meant to say Coursera in that last sentence! I blame my automated spell checker!

  4. jennymackness November 22, 2017 / 7:37 am

    Hi Chris – thanks for your comments. I did wonder whether the openly accessible mirror might have added to the problem in this course. I engaged through the mirror course and Twitter and not through the Edx site which I only looked at occasionally.

    Despite the huge amount of research that has now been carried out into MOOCs, there is still scope for plenty more!

  5. jennymackness November 22, 2017 / 8:42 am

    Hi Geoff, Thanks for your comment and all your links. Two significant differences between CCK08 and openedMOOC are

    1. the number of active participants – I don’t know how many people signed up for openedMOOC, but there never seemed to be many people around. I think large numbers are needed for the connectivism model to work.

    2. Tutor presence. In CCK08 George and Stephen were very present. Of course being present, without being central, is a difficult balance to achieve, but essential to the connectivism model. I would think that the more active participants there are, the easier it is for the tutors to keep a low profile, i.e. not be central, and the more likely that participants can get support from each other.

    This still leaves the thorny question though of who has the expertise, i.e. can we do away with the teacher?

    I think Matt Crosslin commenting on Rebecca’s blog -https://sites.psu.edu/rebeccaheiser/2017/11/16/design-reflections-on-openedmooc/ – has articulated well how difficult it is to meet learners’ needs in MOOCs.

  6. Lisa M Lane December 1, 2017 / 5:36 am

    Well, obviously I didn’t finish it – I barely started. I’m not a fan of videos (they are a very slow way of presenting material compared to text), so at first I tried to focus on the conversation. But the topics of the conversation were not as well developed as I had hoped, given how long these issues had been discussed. I was hoping to learn something new, a new perspective, a new framework. When, by Week 3, I still hadn’t sensed this, I was not willing to continue. It seemed like we were again in a MOOC about MOOCs, rather than studying an actual subject.

    In addition, I was put off by the EdX set-up. Every day I had to find the course anew, the discussion within the system was disjointed (no, not distributed — disjointed), and I was never sure what EdX and other entities were doing with my work. It could be my increased sensitivity given the controversies over what Facebook and Google are doing, but I felt more in this course than elsewhere that I was creating products for others to use, that I was expected to make the course work for someone else, that my contributions were supposed to build what should have been built by the instructors. And (sorry Jenny – I know you research this) I have increasingly felt in these MOOCs like a research subject, a rat in a maze, rather than an independent, thinking entity with my own ideas.

    But I really did think that was just my issue (I’ve been doing this too long, y’know?). So it’s fascinating, Jenny, to read your analysis and the comments here. I don’t know that the cMOOC model demands a huge number of participants, but it does need people who learn from each other, who bring enough different perspectives and experiences and comments, especially if the course materials aren’t that fascinating. I actually don’t mind the “set it and forget it” idea when it comes to course design – I’m a fan of setting everything up in advance. But the purpose of that, as an instructor, is to make time to interact. There should be a sense that the teacher(s) are somehow exploring the materials *with* the students, being, as Alec Couros says, sherpas on a journey. I never got that sense here.

  7. jennymackness December 1, 2017 / 8:20 am

    Thank you Lisa for your thought-provoking comments. I didn’t get the sense this time that this was a MOOC about MOOCs, but I did wonder whether the purpose of it was to gather data for research , so I can relate to your comment:

    >>> It could be my increased sensitivity given the controversies over what Facebook and Google are doing, but I felt more in this course than elsewhere that I was creating products for others to use, that I was expected to make the course work for someone else, that my contributions were supposed to build what should have been built by the instructors. <<<

    I think it is increasingly recognised that whatever we do on line could be regarded as free labour for the powers that be – see for example Fuchs' discussion about Facebook – http://fuchs.uti.at/wp-content/uploads/CF_value.pdf – and this makes me wonder, now that you have raised it – whether Fuchs' arguments apply to researchers. Hopefully, if the research is conducted ethically with full consent from research participants then they shouldn't?

    For me this MOOC once again raised the question of what is the role of the MOOC convener in relation to teaching and learning and more importantly what is the responsibility of the MOOC convener for MOOC participants? I think there is a lot more research to be done on this 🙂

  8. Lisa M Lane December 1, 2017 / 7:01 pm

    Thank you, Jenny, for your reply, and the link to Fuchs.

    Yes, if the work is conducted ethically, that’s important. If it is all set up at the beginning (“anything you post may be used for research”), then at least you know where you stand when contributing. OTOH, if you cannot participate in an “open” course *without* being a research subject, I’m not sure I’m that comfortable. And there’s the question of what the research is – is it about MOOCs as a format? or people’s emotions in their posts? or just a research shell for what is really designed to collect free course content?

    And yes, I like thinking about it as the *responsibility* of the MOOC convener.

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